Sharon Creech Author Study

Mom and Daughter Author Study on Sharon Creech: We Agree to Disagree

My 5th grader is doing a Sharon Creech author study in class and she’s been reading and loving Ruby Holler and Heartbeat, and wants to read Chasing Redbird. We tend to agree on books that we like but it’s strange that we haven’t when it comes to Sharon Creech.  Don’t get me wrong; we both LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sharon Creech, but we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE different chapter books.

Take Walk Two Moons, a Newbery Winner, for example.  Her friend chose this chapter book for their book club where they made gorgeous Pandora Boxes as the craft. My daughter had actually checked the book out of her school library and brought it home for me to blog on last year because her friend (same one that chose it for book club) recommended it but my daughter had trouble reading the book. “It’s too sad,” she told me. Her book club, though, all loved it.  Maybe she’s very sensitive about loss?!! They made lovely “Pandora Boxes” as the craft and each kept hope in the box.

I bought her Hate That Cat; I think it was on sale through those Scholastic fundraisers. Again, I LOVED it and she wouldn’t read it. “It’s not really a book Mom.” For a blog post on Top 10 Dogs to Fall in Love With inKidLit, I schlepped to the library to find Love That Dog, and while digging around, also found Bloomability. I don’t think my daughter will read either, but maybe she’s just in a pre-teen rebellion stage because she loved Heartbeat, another novel in verse like Hate That Cat and Love That Dog.  And I think when I finish my own author study of Sharon Creech, I bet my daughter and I will agree more than disagree!

As for Madame Creech, I am grateful that she once was an English teacher because as I read her books, I realize how much her love of teaching, poetry and kids has seeped into her stories.  That she seems to know us, the reader, as if we were a student in her class, also connects us to her and her stories in a deep and heartfelt way. And that she seems to have a large extended and wacky family with access to a farm in the country is the cherry on top! Creech says that her characters, and amazing characters they are!, are mash ups of people that she knows, mostly family! Thank goodness she was not an only child of only children!

What are your favorite Sharon Creech books or books that are Sharon Creech-like? Please share!


Love That Dog

You can really tell that Sharon Creech was an English teacher who loved to teach poetry to her students and she’s a natural at instilling a love and appreciation for poetry! You can also sense the power behind her writing; she’s like a high performance car that drives so smoothly and effortlessly that you almost don’t realize how fast you are going.  She is a master of weaving plot into an ending that feels like peeling an onion … there are layers and layers of interesting stuff that build into a surprise that is like a scavenger hunt. You sort of knew it was coming and yet it’s a revelation. This story is deceptively short, simple, and seductive.  Don’t like poetry? Well…not for long. She draws the reader into a story in verse AND introduces iconic poems AND makes them feel fresh and sparkly new. Which is hard to with Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening! [story in verse, ages 8-12. I’d try it for reluctant readers, particularly boys!]

Hate That Cat

I have an earlier post here. What is unusual about this book is that it is a sequel and I think, folks, that this is the only sequel that Sharon Creech ever wrote. Jack is back and still very sad about his dog. I read the books in reverse order but I would recommend not doing that. And, if you were only to get your child to read one novel-in-verse, try Love That Dog. [story in verse, ages 8-12]


My daughter and I both loved Heartbeat and I think this is her first novel in verse that she’s liked and this is only my 4th novel in verse, if you can count Call Me Maria; the others are all Sharon Creech. I am amazed how Creech can sneak in humor while creating a novel in verse, as well as characters and a plot that unfolds like a flower in bloom. I mean, she uses less words than when she writes a novel, so it’s as if every word works double time.

This is a such a good read with heartbeat referring to both a baby developing in 12-year-old Annie’s mother’s womb, and her own heartbeat as she runs madly for the sheer joy of it with her friend Max. His life, it seems, is more grim and he’s running to get himself to college on a scholarship. Annie’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s and Creech paints a loving but realistic portrait of living with dementia for both the grandfather and the people who love him. But my favorite part — the part that always makes me chuckle — is Annie’s English teacher, Mr. Welling and his “forbidden” words: very, like, ya know?, uh, well, stuff, yeah. I love it when the English teacher in Creech comes out and it IS funny how difficult it is for Annie to avoid saying or writing these words, though she makes very good use of both footnotes and a thesaurus! 🙂 [novel in verse, ages 8-16]


We see the English teacher again in Sharon Creech in Bloomability, and not just because the book is set in a Swiss International Boarding School which parallels Sharon Creech’s own life. Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening makes another appearance but again, Creech makes the poetry somehow blend into the story so that it’s not trite which is hard to do with such a well known poem! This is another coming-of-age story of thirteen-year-old Domenica “Dinnie” Santolina Doone. I couldn’t help but think of Summer Sisters by Judy Blume when reading this book; there is a girl in both books that get a “magic pass” to a more exclusive boarding school world. I have a feeling that Dinnie’s classmates were inspired by Creech’s experience teaching in a boarding school in Europe and they ring true as “poor little rich kids” with parents who have too much money but not enough time for their children and hence the boarding school-as-dumping-ground.

And while this book is not her finest and will not make the roster on my daughter’s author study, it is a pleasant read, particularly for those kids trying to find their way as they enter a new school, particularly if it’s the boarding school kind. Finally, I think this book is interesting as an author study book for its significance in watching the author develop. I would hazard to say that there would be no Salamanca Tree Hiddle if it were not for the training ground of developing Domenica Santolina Doone. [chapter book, ages 9-12]

Walk Two Moons

What is so interesting about Walk Two Moons is the wondrous cast of characters that Sharon has assembled. In the forward, she says that she draws from her large extended family and she must have a huge and interesting family. The grandparents remind me of my favorite characters from another Newbery winner, The Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck, because they are strong, wacky country folk. But then there is an introspective and sensitive father that reminds me of yet another Newbery winner favorite, the father and mother in Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. And then there is thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle herself. As complicated and interesting as Opal in Because of Winn Dixie and struggling with hurt inside her just like Opal. Don’t forget Phoebe Winterbottom and her family. Their story is significant and interesting enough to be its own book but is masterfully woven into Salamanca’s story as a foil that, when peeled away, reveals the truth of Sal’s situation to us, the reader. This book was so moving that I cried as it ended. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

Ruby Holler

Ruby Holler is a valentine to the beauty of really long marriages and foster children. In other hands, this strange combination wouldn’t work but  Sharon manages to take what could be cartoon-like — think A Series of Unfortunate Events or The Willoughbys with orphans-in-terrible-circumstances — and gives her characters depth and soul. She plunks them into an idyllic rural setting with an empty nester elderly couple and lets the magic happen. And there is magic everywhere, from the collectible carvings that Tiller and Sairy, the elderly couple “birth” from found wood by letting it happen. In this same meandering way, Dallas and Florida, the Trouble Twin orphans are able to let down their guard and finally know what it is like to be loved, and in turn, Tiller and Sairy find that all they every needed or wanted was right there all along at Ruby Holler. There are other twists and turns to the novel that make the plot a lot of fun from shifty characters to buried treasure  but I’ll leave that for you to discover. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

Ruby Holler won a Carnegie Award for Children’s Literature. I know that I go on and on about obscure children’s lit awards (and that no one cares), but my point is that there are soooo many books deserving of Newbery recognition and these other obscure awards help to identify great books.  Ruby Holler is the perfect example!

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ama

    I can understand your daughter not wanting to read Walk Two Moons. I recently listened to the audiobook. It is a fantastically written novel, but it is sad. I couldn’t keep from crying.

    Oddly enough, I haven’t read a lot of Creech’s work. This is something I need to remedy!

    • To Ama,
      I only just discovered Sharon Creech. I must have been living under a rock or something but now I am a huge, huge fan. Walk Two Moons is sad but such a great read. I hope my daughter will come around in a few years!

  2. Chelsea Brown

    Well i came here to find out what sharons daughters name is but i cant find it know were? Any help guys?

  3. LOVE Sharon Creech, such a ‘go-to’ sure-fire section of the library to please most readers. I feel the same as you Mia, curious about why I love some books and my daughter doesn’t and vice versa. I know Bridge to Terabithia was a life changer for me as a fifth grader and I couldn’t wait to introduce it to my daughter… “too sad” she said… I know, BUT, so amazing!
    Oh, and as for Sharon Creech’s daughter… looks like her name is Karin, part of her inspiration for her year 2000 book, The Wanderer

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